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Why Schools Need Playgrounds


Why Schools Need Playgrounds

As you get older and spend less time on school playgrounds, you may begin to overlook their importance. You may see recess as a time for kids to run around and be crazy outdoors rather than in the classroom. While playgrounds allow kids to release their energy during school, they hold much more value for growing and developing kids. Though they may not see it, playing on a playground benefits kids in numerous ways, making them a vital feature for schools.

Find out why schools need playgrounds and why it’s important for kids to get time to play on them during the school day.

Benefits of Play for Children

As a young child, there is a lot of time for play and most of the day is centered around play and exploring. As kids grow and develop life-long skills, the importance of play remains the same. Play is an essential part of childhood because it offers numerous benefits for growing and developing kids. Consider some of the ways school-aged kids can benefit from play.

1. Builds Creativity and Imagination

Kid on playground climber

Playtime is the perfect opportunity for kids to stretch their imaginations and show their creativity. While playing, kids create new worlds, act out different scenarios and make their own rules for make-believe games. Imagination and creativity are crucial for the development of young kids. Creative, unstructured play allows kids to have fun while doing what they like without someone else’s rules. This helps kids gain confidence and self-esteem as they experiment and explore new things.

Creativity and imagination also lead to developing a wide range of other skills and future interests. Play is beneficial for kids because it gives them time to express themselves creatively and explore new possibilities.

2. Encourages Physical Exercise

School-aged kids need at least an hour of physical activity every day. Playtime is the perfect opportunity for kids to get the necessary exercise for their health. Any play that gets their bodies moving counts towards this need for physical exercise. Active play like running, jumping and climbing allows kids to build muscles, develop balance, improve movement control and more while having fun.

The benefits of physical activity for kids have long-lasting and positive effects on their growth and health. Active play as kids helps pave the way for healthy habits and an active lifestyle in the future. When kids have the chance to participate in active play, they can burn calories, build muscle and regulate their metabolism, helping with their overall health.

3. Promotes Independence

Kids playing on swing

Much of a child’s day is decided for them — where to go, what to do and when. When kids get to play, they have the chance to be the leader. They can make the rules and give directions. Kids who play by themselves develop a greater sense of independence and can figure things out on their own. Allowing kids to make their own decisions during play helps them gain tools they can use and build upon when making choices later in life.

Solitary play allows kids to experiment and stimulate their minds without pressure from others. These skills help kids feel more comfortable on their own, which is important as they begin building friendships.

Why Schools Need Playgrounds

School playground allows opportunities to play outside

As we mentioned above, play is crucial for kids, though many don’t get the necessary amount of physical activity each day. For some kids, the playground at school is their only time to get exercise and play vigorously. While playing on the playground at school may seem ordinary to some, for others, it’s one of a few opportunities to play outside. Playing on a playground allows kids to build developmental skills and explore new things in a world that is their own.

Because playgrounds provide kids with a designated area to play and learn, they’re beneficial for schools. Since kids go to school every day during the week, schools need playgrounds to provide kids with somewhere to play. Consider some of the benefits of playgrounds for school-aged kids and why schools need playgrounds.

Kids Learn Skills Through Play

While kids think they’re just playing and having fun on a playground, they’re actually developing a wide range of essential skills. Certain school playground equipment pieces help kids build their balance, coordination, muscle movements and more. Consider how kids can develop the following essential life skills while playing on a playground:

  • Gross motor skills: Gross motor skills involve movement of the arms, legs and torso muscle groups. These muscle groups allow kids to walk, run, jump, throw, kick and lift. Playground equipment like climbing walls, slides and swings help kids develop strength in their upper body, legs and abdomen. Developing these skills helps kids build strength and increase their body awareness. Kids begin identifying sensations like getting dizzy on a tire swing and their vestibular system remembers how to handle those movements so the body can react properly.

girl climbing playground net

  • Cognitive abilities: Playing on a playground helps stimulate nerve cells in the brain, which helps more connections develop. The brain is continually developing into adulthood, though play early on in childhood allows kids to make connections that aid in the development of gross and fine motor skills. As kids keep growing and playing, they’ll continue developing real-life skills like decision-making and problem-solving.
  • Coordination: Many pieces of playground equipment encourage the development of coordination because kids have to coordinate movements between multiple parts of their bodies. For example, swinging requires coordination of the hands, arms and legs. A child must learn to grip the chains with their hands while simultaneously pumping their arms and legs to generate the swinging movement. The ability to coordinate muscle movements is crucial as kids begin needing more advanced daily movements and playgrounds give them the chance to build those skills.
  • Language skills: School playgrounds are a great space for kids to learn new vocabulary and language skills. Kids can learn new language skills from other kids by playing with and around them. They’ll learn how to have conversations, listen when others are talking and verbalize thoughts and feelings. Kids can also apply learned language skills through modeling and repetition on the playground. Narrating their actions on the playground is a great way for kids to put words to what they’re doing. For example, saying aloud, “I’m sliding down the green slide,” can help kids conceptualize their actions.

Much of school child development takes place with the help of play areas. While kids learn in the classroom and expand their knowledge, they can continue developing their brains and bodies through time on the playground.

Kids Develop Social and Emotional Skills

School playgrounds are also an ideal play area for building emotional and social skills. Many kids enjoy recess and time on the playground because it’s a chance for them to interact with others and build and foster friendships outside of the classroom structure. As they play in groups, kids learn and practice social skills like cooperation, collaboration, teamwork and how to take turns. Through unstructured social interactions, kids learn how to get along with their peers and play together.

For example, kids may engage in conversation while swinging or playing games. In other instances, they’ll have to work together to accomplish something, like rotating the merry-go-round. They’ll have to communicate who gets to go first down the slide or determine who gets to seesaw with who.

This also means conflicts will arise on the playground, which is an effective way for kids to develop conflict resolution skills. Kids may disagree, argue and challenge each other on the playground. While some arguments may need adult mediation, kids will begin resolving these issues independently. When given the opportunity, kids will develop the necessary skills to work through their differences with each other and resolve their conflicts.

As students engage in various social situations on the playground, they learn valuable lessons about dealing with frustrations, being empathetic, sharing, communicating and helping others. These are all social and emotional skills necessary for future relationships and workplace settings.

Playgrounds Provide Mental Health Breaks

Despite being kids, the stress and demands of school, home and social lives can take a toll on students’ mental health. Without an outlet for negative emotions like anxiety and stress, kids may let those emotions build up inside, which can be mentally exhausting. Playgrounds serve as an outlet for all those negative emotions, providing students with a mental health break in the middle of the school day.

Playground rock tunnel

Kids need a space where they’re free to socialize, play, create and imagine without being micromanaged and controlled. Unstructured playground time allows students to release any negative emotions and stress through healthy play. Additionally, being outside in the sunshine and fresh air can help boost their moods. Physical activity also helps improve mental health and serves as a mood booster, so students will benefit from vigorous play outside on the playground.

Playgrounds Give Kids a Break from Electronics

Modern kids live in a world in which they’re surrounded by electronics. Much of their time at home may be spent using electronics, and it may not be much different in their classes at school. While being tech-savvy can be a positive thing, many kids lack a designated time to be away from their screens. Plus, kids can’t develop as many of the necessary skills through their devices as they can on the playground. Time on the playground can serve as a break from electronics so kids can be kids.

Kids can interact with others face to face on the playground and experience real-life scenarios that electronics can’t give them. Playgrounds also serve as a way to get kids to interact face-to-face rather than through the screen, which they likely do a lot.

Kids Can Practice Skills for Adult Competencies

As kids learn and develop various skills, the playground becomes a place to practice those skills. Some skills, like decision making, problem-solving and collaboration, are crucial adult competencies that kids can practice and mimic through play. For example, because much of a student’s day is decided for them, they may not get to make many of their own decisions. However, the playground is a safe environment where they can experiment with the effects of their decisions and practice deciding things for themselves.

Kids need experience with these concepts so they can effectively carry them out as they get older and need to apply them in real situations. The playground serves as a practice real world for young kids. They might even pretend they’re adults who work jobs and have to engage in their own social situations as if they were grown.

Kids Learn a Sense of Community

While there may be students from a variety of different backgrounds and of various abilities, there may be limited opportunities for kids to interact with others who may differ from them. The playground is where the students become a community and get first-hand experiences learning about others’ differences and how to interact with them. Children of all ethnicities, types of families, ability levels and ages can play together on the playground.

Children working together on playground

Learning to accept others’ differences and be empathetic toward everyone in the playground community prepares kids for working with a variety of people throughout their life and in the workplace.

Playgrounds Offer a Better Education Experience

A short break for play in the middle of the school day can help improve the educational experience for many school-aged kids. Part of the importance of playgrounds for students is that they give students a fun-filled break from the demand of the classroom. Playgrounds and opportunities for play can impact a child’s feelings toward going to school and enjoying the experience. Rather than going to school and being stuck in a classroom all day, students will know their day will be broken up with recess breaks.

With the known connections between play and the development of children, schools can help kids learn and grow in more ways than one when they provide a playground for kids to use throughout the school day.

How playgrounds help kids in the classroom

How Playgrounds Help Kids in the Classroom

In addition to making school more fun for students, playgrounds can benefit kids in the classroom. Playgrounds can be used as a strategy to help improve students’ performance and behavior. The CDC supports the correlation between play and focus to demonstrate how recess benefits students in the following ways:

  • Improves memory, concentration and attention: The increased blood flow that occurs during physical activity helps send more oxygen to the brain. With increased blood flow and oxygen in the brain, the memory and learning areas of the brain can grow more and see a boost in nerve connectivity. This leads to increased memory retention and improved attention span. Recess and concentration in the classroom directly connect with each other, which means a recess break can help kids absorb the information they’re learning more effectively.
  • Helps kids stay on task: Kids naturally have shorter attention spans than adults, so it’s easy for them to get distracted and off task. A good rule of thumb is that kids can focus on a task for about two to five minutes for every year they are old. For example, a 10-year-old could be expected to concentrate on something for 20-50 minutes. To help them stay on task, it’s best to give them brain breaks on the playground. Playgrounds provide a space for kids to lean into their body’s natural energy levels so they can stay on task in the classroom and let loose outside.
  • Reduces disruptive behavior: Sitting in class for long periods allows for energy to build up inside students, increasing the likelihood that kids will act out during class. Disruptive behavior can affect the educational experience for everyone in the classroom, including the teacher. Playgrounds allow kids to burn off their energy in the middle of the day rather than letting it continue to build up. Releasing this pent-up energy reduces disruptions and distractions in the classroom so everyone can focus.

Kids need both play and concentration to help them succeed in school, and playgrounds can help with both. Playgrounds are more than just colorful jungle gyms and swing sets. Schools need playgrounds because they benefit the development of young minds and help kids stay focused in the classroom. Though, more than anything, kids want to have fun and playgrounds can provide that experience.

How Playworld Can Help

Because playgrounds play an important role in children’s development and learning, finding the right playground equipment is crucial. The types of playground equipment can vary significantly depending on many factors like age and ability level. Because of this, playground equipment shouldn’t be thought of as a one-size-fits-all decision. At a school, you want to be sure you’re choosing playground equipment that allows kids of all ages and abilities to get exercise and have fun.

At Playworld, we understand the need for variety on the playground. We can help you create a quality playground that’s inclusive and will benefit your students inside and outside of the classroom. We offer a wide variety of playground equipment designed with kids in mind. From preschool through grade school, you’ll find something for your students.

Preschool-aged kids need playground equipment that will help them develop their minds and bodies so they can run fast and play hard. Our preschool playground equipment is designed to be age-appropriate, with safety and exploration at the forefront of our designs. Older kids have different needs, so our elementary playground equipment reflects that. Our school-aged equipment is designed to challenge and entertain older kids in fun and exciting ways.

If you’re looking for a unique way to incorporate your PE classes with outdoor fitness equipment, consider Playworld pieces. Our fitness equipment is accessible to all students so it can be used in conjunction with health classes or during students’ free time. This equipment can help students build their strength and develop healthy habits for the future.

At Playworld, we’re passionate about providing beneficial play opportunities for all kids. We extensively test our equipment to ensure it’s safe and will last for years to come. Whether you’re looking for playground collections or stand-alone components, we’re here to help you provide a positive and beneficial playground experience for students at your school.

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Begin Designing Your Playground Today

Whether have ideas for a dream playground or want to rely on the professionals, our expert design assistants can help you make your school playground a reality.

If you’re looking to stick to a budget, we can help you there, too. Building a great playground for your students is important, but only if you can afford it. Rather than cut corners, we can help you account for all the standard expenses and find ways to fund the project.

To find out how else Playworld can help you plan for and design your playground, contact us today — we’re always here to help!